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Canada Counts
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A survey of Canadian buying intentions.
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Canadian confidence falls in December PDF Print E-mail
Written by HGO Staff   

TORONTO (20 December 2010) - Canadian sentiments about the economy have changed from ambivalent to negative, according to the final Consumer Confidence Index survey of 2010, conducted by TNS Canada. The index was down 1.5 points in December and ended the year at 96.1.

At the end of 2009, the TNS index was 97.2.

The market research firm also predicted that this will be the lowest spending holiday season since 2005.

"Gloomy - that's how we can describe Canadians year-end sentiments on the economy," TNS vice president Dr. Michael Antecol said in a statement.

"The year clearly isn't ending well for consumer confidence - indifference has given way to heightened negativity around both current and future economic prospects. It really isn't too surprising that so many Canadians are planning to sit on their wallets this holiday season," he added.

Antecol is also the director of the monthly tracking study, which interviewed some nationally representative 1,015 Canadian adults by telephone between 06 and 12 December. The margin of error for such a sample is 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

The Present Situation Index, which captures evaluations of the overall state of the current economic and employment situations, took a decided drop in December. After a one-month positive blip of 2.1 points in November, the index returned to the negative results of September and October, falling 4.5 points to end the year at 89.0 - a score not seen since March of this year.

The results of the two future-oriented confidence indices were again mixed. The Expectations Index, which measures consumers' estimation of the economy, household income and employment in the next six months, returned to negative territory after two months of modest gains. In December the index fell 1.1 points to end 2010 at 104.6.

In contrast, the Buy Index, which gauges the degree to which people think the current period is a good time to make major purchases (including house, car and other big ticket items such as furniture and appliances), continued its third quarter momentum. The index ended the year at 97.0, up 1.9 points in December and complementing the 4.3-point increases seen in the first two months of the third quarter.

"The results of the Buy Index provide some hope for the future. No doubt it is a good time to make some of those major buys - retailers are very busy lowering prices. The key will be whether this momentum can be sustained into 2011," Antecol said.

"But a word of caution - Canadians now have a higher debt to income ratio than our American neighbours," he continued, adding, "So, while these purchases may seem encouraging at first blush, they don't necessarily improve the underlying economic fundamentals. They are often purchased through increased debt - especially credit card debt - and when interest rates inevitable rise, we'll still be sitting on a house of cards."

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